WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. -- Lowes Food Stores here is aggressively promoting a new line of branded fresh-prepared entrees that the retailer is sourcing from outside.
When the 54-unit chain introduced the line, it devoted nearly half a page in its ad circular to describing the restaurant-based origins of the products.
In the ad and on the packaging for the line, Lowes is using the manufacturer's brand name -- Ed & Joan DeLuca -- instead of a proprietary label or brand. The retailer also devoted considerable space in its tabloid-size circular to explaining what the products are and who their creators, Ed and Joan DeLuca, are.
DeLuca Inc., a Middlebury, Conn.-based manufacturer, produces a whole menu of single-serving, fresh entrees in modified-atmosphere packaging.
Lowes introduced the entrees at a special price of two of the 12-ounce packages for $5. Lowes' regular retail price will be $2.99 each, a store-level source told SN.
Officials at Lowes declined to talk about the products or the program's early sales performance. Ed DeLuca, owner of DeLuca Inc., told SN last week that his company has received large re-orders from the chain, indicating strong initial sales.
"It's unusual for a retailer to devote this much ad space to a branded, prepared food," DeLuca added.
"We and our broker in the area [Action Food Sales, Charlotte, N.C.] have convinced Lowes that their competitors include restaurants such as Boston Market and KFC," he said.
"We told them they need to tell customers they're in the home-meal replacement business, too, and that they are a viable option, in addition to letting them know they have a product that's cooked, fresh and ready-to-heat.
The introductory ad uses a full-color photo of one of the packaged entrees. A starburst proclaiming "New" is set at the corner of the photo.
The varieties touted in the ad are sausage, pepper and onions; macaroni and beef; vegetable lasagna; cheese lasagna; and meat lasagna.
But most notable on the page is an entire column of text offering a description of the DeLuca line, its positioning and background information on its manufacturer. The column was headlined, "It's like eating at your favorite Italian restaurant!"
Indeed, below the headline, Lowes points out that the DeLuca recipes originated in Joan and Ed DeLuca's fresh pasta restaurants in Connecticut.
Tha ad says, "The restaurants received unsolicited rave reviews in newspapers and magazines. Their success caused us to bring to you their award-winning recipes." Then it explains that the entrees are "prepared with the finest and freshest natural ingredients.